The Champions League Group Draw was a few weeks ago but games only start this week. I take a look at each group featuring Mexican Internationals and gauge their chances of advancing.
Benfica vs Besiktas 2:45pm ET, WatchESPN & Fox Soccer 2GO
-Raul Jimenez will not feature in the first group game but Benfica is expected to advance from Group B. It features them, Napoli, Besiktas, and Dynamo Kyiv in an evenly matched group. Last season, Jimenez excelled in the Champions League. The Club America cantero produced 3 goals, 2 assists and won an official Man of the Match award. Jimenez has started the season hot for club and country but faces a fitness race for matchday 2. It is going to come down between Besiktas and Benfica for the 2nd spot. I’m going with the reigning Portuguese champions.
PSV vs Atletico Madrid 2:45pm ET, WatchESPN, Fox Deportes, & Fox Soccer 2GO
-Guardado and Moreno will face a familiar foe in Cholo’s Atletico Madrid. PSV took them to the brink last season, losing in penalty kicks. PSV face a tough battle in Group D featuring: Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich and Rostov. It arguably features 2 of the favored clubs to reach the final in Bayern and Atletico. PSV have been trying different formations in practice the last week, don’t be surprised to see them try out a backline of 5 when they welcome Atletico to Amsterdam. They are not expected to make it out of the group but they weren’t expected to push Atletico so hard last season either. For PSV to have any shot at advancing, they will need to take care of business at home. I just don’t see PSV getting out of the group.
Bayer Leverkusen vs CSKA Moscow 2:45pm ET, WatchESPN, Fox Deportes, & Fox Soccer 2GO
-The best news for Bayer is they are finally getting their players healthy. Most notably, a certain Mexican striker is back from his hand injury. Chicharito played a full 90 minutes this past weekend and added an assist as Bayer won 3-1. Bayer find themselves in Group E with Tottenham, Monaco, and CSKA Moscow. It is a manageable group but the same was said last year and they failed to advance. Chicharito averaged a goal every 97 minutes and will be asked to score the bulk of the goals this time as well. Can Bayer advance this time around? I believe they will.
FC Porto vs FC Copenhagen 2:45pm ET, WatchESPN & Fox Soccer 2GO
-PorTri qualified for the Group Stage after beating Roma in their playoff matchup. The Portuguese giants will feature in Group G with Leicester City, Club Brugge, and FC Copenhagen. The draw could not have been kinder to Porto. The team is influx with several player movements this transfer window, including shipping off Diego Reyes to Espanyol on loan. Layun should feature at Right Back until Maxi Pereira recovers from his injury. Hector Herrera has been up & down but look for him to start in the midfield, likely wearing the captain’s armband. Tecatito has had a great start of the season for Porto and is healthy after his collarbone contusion. I see Porto qualifying from this group.
Agree with my picks?